On May 9, Princess Ashi Kesang Choden Wangchuk of the Bhutanese Royal Family visited ASIJ to speak with elementary and high school students. Princess Kesang is the Executive Director of Bhutan’s Thangka Conservation Center (TCC) as well as a scholar of ancient Buddhist scriptural text and iconography. The Princess was joined by Ephraim “Eddie” Jose, who was the Chief Conservator for the global exhibition The Dragon’s Gift: The Sacred Arts of Bhutan and the first non-Japanese recipient of the Japanese Agency for Cultural Properties certification. Eddie is currently an art conservation consultant based in Bellevue, Washington.
Following the high school Explorations trip to Bhutan, there has been an increased interest in Bhutanese and Buddhist culture on campus. High school students filled the multi-purpose room to meet Princess Kesang, benefiting from a presentation and brief Q&A, not only about her country, but also about her art conservation efforts. With Eddie’s help, the Princess has been raising awareness of the importance of ancient Buddhist arts and the value in conservation of works such as thangkas (highly-detailed paintings on cotton or silk) and statutes. In addition to rising awareness, Princess Kesang and Eddie have been teaching monks how to restore and preserve their sacred treasures.
Princess Kesang met with kindergarten classes in the afternoon. She read the Bhutanese folk story Room in Your Heart, the tale of an old woman who welcomes weary visitors, one after the other, into her home. After the story, Princess Kesang discussed the story with our kindergarteners and proceeded to other elementary classrooms to say hello.
Thank you to Aileen Kanoh (Elementary School Secretary) for facilitating and organizing Princess Kesang and Eddie’s visit.
If you would like to read more about the Princess or Eddie Jose and their conservation projects, check out Restoring the Dragon’s Gift: Recovering Bhutan’s Thangka, A Restoration Odyssey – Conservation of Bhutan’s Thangka Paintings or Eddie’s blog, Friends of the Monks.